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The Hunted

Blu Ray

  • Score
    from 1 reviewers
    Review Date:
  • Lawton's script for The Hunted has awkward elements and pacing issues but offers a distinct start, blending Eastern and Western cinema.

    The Hunted Blu-ray Front Cover

    Disc Release Date:

  • Video
  • The AVC encoded image has an average quality for a Universal catalog title, with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Despite some softness and filtering, details in close-ups and interior decorations are decent. Exteriors and colors are acceptable, showcasing city and island scenes with adequate neon highlights.

  • Audio
  • The 5.1 DTS-HD MA produces a vivid frontal mix featuring a dynamic Taiko drum score and clear dialogue, with immersive surrounds capturing the essence of speed, violence, and atmospheric detail.

  • Extra
  • The 1994 preview of The Hunted reveals unseen aspects like a co-worker's extended role, Kinjo's inner turmoil, and an unexpected romance, alongside in-depth deleted content, production insights, and promotional material.

  • Movie
  • Christopher Lambert's eclectic career, peaking with 'Highlander' and 'Mortal Kombat,' meets a tension-filled performance in 'The Hunted,' a tale of honor, revenge, and ninja duels, amidst his varying success.

    Video: 56

    The Blu-ray presentation of "The Hunted" via Shout Factory, encoded in AVC with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio, offers a viewing experience that reflects the limitations of its source material without new scanning efforts. While the transfer exhibits some inherent softness due to the application of filtering, it does not entirely diminish the visual detail. In closer shots, viewers can still appreciate the textures of facial features and the nuances of interior designs, suggesting a careful balance maintained in the digitization process. The broader shots, including cityscapes and island scenes, manage to convey a sense of space and location, albeit with less sharpness than might be desired. This approach to video quality ensures that most of the film's visual intentions are preserved under the constraints given.

    Color reproduction across the board is of a satisfying quality. The Blu-ray vividly captures the varying hues of the urban Japanese nightlife with its neon glow, alongside the more subdued but equally important palette of day-to-day attire and settings, signifying Shout Factory's commitment to maintaining the film's aesthetic integrity. The reds of key costumes stand out without overpowering, allowing for a visual experience that is both vibrant and balanced. Issues such as delineation are handled competently, preventing the loss of detail in darker scenes, and thankfully, the source material's condition appears commendably preserved, showing minimal signs of damage or wear.

    Overall, this Blu-ray release of "The Hunted" does justice to the original material under the limitations at hand. The video presentation navigates the challenges of filter usage and source quality to deliver a product that allows for an engaging viewing experience. Attention to color and detail preservation, despite some areas of softness and lack of ultimate sharpness in landscapes, showcases Shout Factory's dedication to providing a worthy home viewing iteration of the film, making it a notable effort in catalog title releases.

    Audio: 66

    The audio quality of "The Hunted" on Blu Ray is underscored by an exquisite 5.1 DTS-HD MA sound mix that, while anchoring much of its presence in the frontal channels, does so with considerable strength. The auditory journey is significantly enhanced by the Taiko drum score, which not only adds a rich, pulsating texture to the entire experience but also plays a critical role in augmenting the suspense throughout the film. The score's deep rumbles blend seamlessly into the overall sound landscape, enriching every scene without becoming overwhelming.

    In terms of dialogue clarity, the mix excels at delivering crisp and clear voice exchanges. It adeptly handles a range of accents, ensuring that each character's speech remains understandable and distinct, without any loss to emotional nuance or risk of distortion even during peak volatility moments. This clarity in dialogue ensures that the narrative's subtleties are not lost amidst the action.

    Furthermore, the surround channels are meticulously utilized to expand the audio experience beyond the central narrative, enveloping the viewer in an immersive auditory environment. These channels excel at conveying the nuanced layers of the film's soundtrack, as well as a variety of atmospheric sounds. From the high-speed adrenaline of bullet trains to the immersive sensation of rain, the sound design crafts a detailed and encompassing backdrop that enhances both the action sequences and quieter moments alike, creating a truly circular auditory experience that deepens the viewer's engagement with the film.

    Extra: 76

    The Blu-ray extras of "The Hunted" offer an enriching deep dive into the film's creation and the nuances left out of the theatrical release. The inclusion of the 1994 preview cut Workprint reveals a broader narrative, giving more screen time to secondary characters and hinting at a deeper romantic subplot, enhancing the film’s complexity. Commentary by writer/director J.F. Lawton adds invaluable insight, while Deleted Scenes and Behind-the-Scenes Footage offer a closer look at the filmmaking process, character development, and the dynamic between the cast and crew. The addition of a Still Gallery and T.V. Spots, along with a Theatrical Trailer, rounds off the extras with a peek into the film's marketing. Each feature accentuates the meticulous efforts behind "The Hunted," making for a compelling package for fans and cinema scholars alike.

    Extras included in this disc:

    • Commentary by J.F. Lawton: Insightful narrative from the writer/director.
    • Workprint: A preview cut offering extended narratives and character roles.
    • Deleted Scenes: Additional footage revealing more about character dynamics and plot.
    • Behind-the-Scenes Footage: A look into the production days with cast and crew interactions.
    • Still Gallery: Collection of film stills and promotional images.
    • T.V. Spots: Commercials aired for the movie.
    • Theatrical Trailer: Original movie trailer.

    Movie: 66

    In "The Hunted," Christopher Lambert's foray into the world of swordplay and ninja clans, under the direction of J.F. Lawton, navigates through the turmoil of honor, revenge, and unexpected alliances with a steady, if not entirely convincing, hand. Lambert plays Paul, a businessman caught in a whirlwind of terror after witnessing a murder by the notorious ninja Kinjo (John Lone). The film embarks on a nerve-wracking journey as Paul, marked for death, fumbles through Japan, his survival hinging on the aid of Takeda (Yoshio Harada), whose feud with Kinjo's clan propels the narrative into a mix of honor-bound confrontations and escape attempts. Despite Lambert's less than natural fit for the dramatic depths of his character, "The Hunted" stands out as one of his more memorable American performances, delivering a mix of hard stares, mild comedy, and physical rigor that somewhat compensates for the emotional engagement it occasionally lacks.

    The movie shines brightest in its action sequences, particularly a high-stakes confrontation aboard a bullet train – a brilliant showcase of Lawton’s ability to blend traditional Japanese themes with the visceral thrill of modern action cinema. This sequence alone highlights the film's successful infusion of Japanese codes of honor and mystical elements into a predominantly Western narrative structure. However, the engagement drops as the movie progresses into its second act, where the focus shifts towards preparations for a final standoff. Here, Lawton indulges in character development and side plots at the cost of the tight pacing established earlier, introducing a lighter tone through Lambert’s interactions that, while humorous, detract from the overall urgency and cohesion of the plot.

    Overall, "The Hunted" is a compelling, if uneven, adventure into the realms of ninjas and samurai through a Western lens. With standout moments of action and culturally rich themes, it brings to life a tense tale of survival and cultural clash. Though Lambert's performance and Lawton's directional choices may present mixed successes, the movie affords an earnest portrayal of an outsider's confrontation with the lethal beauty and tradition of Japanese martial culture.

    Total: 61

    The Hunted" Blu-ray presentation delivers a mixed bag of technical brilliance overshadowed by narrative stumbling blocks. On one hand, the film visually shines, with crisp, immaculate picture quality and a dynamic sound mix that properly showcases both the subdued moments of tension and the sweeping action scenes characteristic of the genre. This technical prowess ensures that from an audio-visual standpoint, "The Hunted" excels, offering an immersive viewing experience that fans of high-stakes action cinema will appreciate. However, the screenplay, penned by J.F. Lawton, introduces a disjointedness that cannot be overlooked, particularly in how it entangles Western and Eastern cinematic traditions.

    Lawton attempts an ambitious blend of cultures and genres but falls short in execution. His decision to morph Paul, a computer chip salesman, into an overnight expert swordsman feels forced, straining believability in a plot already teetering on the edge of coherence. This dramatic leap is symptomatic of a broader issue within the screenplay — an inability to smoothly navigate the storyline's evolution or gracefully integrate its cultural elements. Consequently, these choices result in pacing issues, dragging the film during moments that should teem with anticipation and energy. Despite these narrative hiccups, Lawton displays a certain flair in kicking off the story, laying down a premise intriguing enough to engage audiences initially.

    In conclusion, "The Hunted" Blu-ray offers a compelling visual and auditory experience that unfortunately is partially marred by its erratic storytelling and strained character development. While Lawton's unique fusion of Eastern and Western cinema aesthetics is commendable for its ambition, the execution lacks finesse, leading to a viewing experience that fluctuates between engaging and sluggish. Nonetheless, for aficionados of action cinema and cultural mashups, this presentation may still warrant a watch, if only for its exceptional technical qualities and the initial intrigue of its premise.